Dedicated to Nigeria's socio-political issues
October 3, 2007 - December 2, 2007
Pot Calling Kettle Black:
Professor Omo Omoruyi
PRESIDENT SHEHU SHAGARI
I read what the former President, Alhaji Shehu Shagari had to say in response to the hue and cry of opposition parties to the outcome of the election of April 12, 2003 to the National Assembly. I was encouraged that there are still men of such sound judgment as Alhaji Shehu Shagari in the country who would tell the like of General Muhammadu Buhari, Dim Ojukwu and the political class to stop being a hypocrite. Without being specific one is sure he must be talking of Sokoto with General Buhari in mind when he called on the politicians like Buhari to stop complaining about others when he was doing worse thing in Sokoto and in the far north where he was making the voters to vote religion.
GENERAL BUHARI, NOT
PREPARED AS A PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE
It was obvious from
the day General Buhari announced his ambition to seek to rule Nigeria through
the ballot box to the day he used the ANPP Governors to undermine the nomination
process and secure the nomination of that party up to the Election Day that he
did not understand what he was getting into. His reactions to what befell him
after the Election Day further confirmed that he did not know what he was
getting into. His failure should start from where and instead he had to invent
the bogey that made him fail. It must be the PDP; it must be candidate
Obasanjo; it must be the INEC. It was never himself. He should commence an
assessment of why he failed with the following questions about himself.
(a) Did I, General Muhammadu Buhari know what it would take to become a President by the way of the ballot box?
(b) Did I know what a political party is?
(c) Did I know how to organize a political party for the purpose of delivering votes as and when required?
(d) Did I know the Electoral Act, especially as it applies to the election of the President?
Did I know what Nigerians in the south actually thought of me?
Was there any relationship between the results from the south and what
they actually thought of me?
Was I financially ready to embark on the presidential race?
Would I be able to overcome my negatives in different parts of Nigeria?
These are some of the areas where Buhari had been found wanting from the debacle that befell him and the ANPP in April election. One would have thought that the party and the Presidential candidate of the party would engage in internal exercise in soul searching to see how he, General Buhari went wrong before during and after the election. Instead he is blaming INEC and the President or the PDP.
FOCUS OF BUHARI WAS AN
Buhari had a jaundiced view of his focus and his constituency. He focused on campaigning only in the far north on two cardinal principles.
(a) That the north should use its majority or numerical strength in the country to get the Presidency; and
(b) That the Muslims in the north should vote for someone who would protect their religion.
Of course, he knew that he, Buhari would be the beneficiary from the application of these two strands of his policy. He thought that others in the south, especially in the southeast and in the south-south would work for him even when he did not visit there to campaign or provide resources for campaign, because the leaders of these areas always supported a northerner against the Yoruba in the past. To the south especially the south-south, Buhari was not the true representative of the north such as Alhaji Shehu Shagari. To the south, especially the south-south, Buhari did not fire the imagination of the people. The south-south is virtually a one party zone in favor of the PDP.
LINK WITH OJUKWU
AS A TRIBAL JINGOIST
General Buhari then reached a deal with the tribal jingoist, Dim Emeka Ojukwu who like Buhari had a narrow focus, his tribe. He focused his campaign exclusively on getting out the Igbo votes. He then focused on mobilizing the Ndigbo votes in the southeast in particular and in Nigeria in general, especially in Lagos, Delta and Rivers States.
His genuine plan was not that the Ndigbo votes would make him the President of Nigeria. What he genuinely set out to do that he did not communicate to the Nigerian people was to “take the Ndigbo to Nigeria” through Daura, the home of General Buhari few miles from the Nigeria-Niger border.
OJUKWU’S CAMPAIGN: HIS BITTER FEELING AGAINST YORUBA-NIGERIAN
In one of his
campaign stops in the southeast, Ojukwu appealed to his audience, all Ndigbo in
the following words:
Did he think he was
speaking to kids? The door of Aso Rock in Aba! Why did he not tell the
Ndigbo the truth that he was working for Buhari? Why did he not tell the Igbo
people that he needed their votes so as to frustrate the goal attainment of the
One was shocked that Dim Ojukwu found it expedient to distort the nature of inter-ethnic relations in Nigeria when he complained of the treatment meted out to the Igbo people in the country since independence. Since independence! How could he say that? Again he thought he was speaking to kids.
In appealing to the
Igbo voters he reminded them of the sacrifice and effort of the past Ndigbo
leaders and how they were not rewarded. Listen to him thus:
Because of the way he treated Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe in the past, he could not mention Zik as that would give him away. He had to leave the past just “past leaders”. What had this rhetoric got to do with wanting the Igbo people to give him a little push with their votes?
Ojukwu then lapsed into the discussion of Ndigbo identity as if that had anything to do with what they call the Igbo Presidency Project (IPP). Look at what he had to say:
Did he need to say all this in order to implement the Igbo Presidency Project (IPP)? Did he know that his campaign language was in violation of Section 86(1) of the Electoral Act that forbids the use of words that would affect religious, ethnic, tribal or sectional feelings. Ojukwu should have been called to order.
They thought they knew the Constitution and the Electoral Act as they apply to the election of the President. Their joint strategy was based on this knowledge.
The joint strategy of Buhari and Ojukwu was to beat President Obasanjo on the first of the two-part condition for the election of the President, which is Section 134 (2a) of the Constitution that applies to the number of votes nation-wide that a candidate should have in order to win. They erroneously believed that a combined vote for Buhari in the north and for Ojukwu in the southeast would deprive President Obasanjo the “highest number of votes” and would deprive him of the 25% of the votes in over half of the States in the Federation where both of them believed they controlled. Buhari met part of his bargain as he technically wiped out or “rigged out” Obasanjo from his bases in the far north or in what someone called the “Sharia belt” where the Ayatollah of Nigeria and the Governor of Zamfara holds sway.
But Ojukwu failed to
meet his part of the bargain. How he thought he would meet from his past was
strange to me. He did not learn from his uncle, Chief MCK Ajuluchukwu who had
once made a distinction between the Ojukwu as a Civil War leader and the Ojukwu
as a political leader. Ojukwu failed to appreciate that distinction. He ought
to have known the difference between what the Igbo people thought of him as a
Civil War leader and from what they think of him today as a politician who wants
to be legitimized on the basis of their votes. To confirm this distinction one
would recall how the Nnewi people, his primary constituency humiliated him in
1983 by denying him their votes in favor of Dr. Edwin Onwudiwe in the 1983
Senatorial election. Sometimes people forget that he did not qualify to seek
the nomination of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1992. Why was he not
cleared to contest the 1992 election?
The reason Professor Humphrey Nwosu, the Chairman of National Electoral Commission (NEC) gave then was that Ojukwu was disqualified not because of his role in the secessionist war to which he was pardoned by Alhaji Shehu Shagari but because he did not meet his civic obligation to Nigeria as a taxpayer. He was reported to have raised a rhetorical question; “how does the government expect me to pay tax when I am unemployed”!
What suddenly changed in 2003 that he would think that the Igbo Presidency Project would be realized through his late emergence as the presidential candidate of an unknown political party, APGA? This was the mischief. That was how the Igbo Presidency Project became the victim of his inordinate ambition and an opportunity to dramatize his hatred for the Yoruba and the Yoruba President. This was the basis of Ojukwu’s plan, which involved how to “win the Igbo votes for Buhari”, as long as it was within the anti-Yoruba and anti-Obasanjo platform.
One would recall the condition in the pact between Buhari and Ojukwu that was well enunciated by the Chairman of APGA, Chief Chekwas Okorie. Chief Chekwas confirmed the meeting between Buhari and Ojukwu on April 17, 2003 at Enugu to formalize the understanding of merely working together when they became the candidates of their respective parties into a written pact between Buhari and Ojukwu. Chief Okorie announced the ingredient of the written pact between Buhari-ANPP and Ojukwu-APGA as follows:
See This Day on line, April 18, 2003.
ON “EVERYONE RIGS”; ONLY
President Shagari saw what was happening in the name of “vote your religion” and “get out the vote” (GOTV) championed by Buhari campaign organization in Sokoto as another form of rigging. He was right.
What was embarrassing to the former President was that his son, a Minister of Water Resources in Obasanjo’s administration and one of the campaign coordinators of Obasanjo/Atiku could not secure 25% votes for his boss in Sokoto. In addition, the son of the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Yusuf Maccido was one of the PDP candidates in the election to the National Assembly.
A combination of
these two forces (Shagari/Sultan) could not overcome the “rigging machine” of
Buhari campaign organization in Sokoto and in the northwest. This was why
Alhaji Shagari was forced to explode when reminded of the complaint of General
President Shagari went on "What is happening is that the political parties? behaved as if it was only the other political party that rigged."
"So politicians who accuse each other of rigging is like the
Pot calling the Kettle black. "
See Vanguard of April 21,
This is an apt
description of the behavior of Buhari and Ojukwu. The Nigerian people are no
fools; after all they are, in the final analysis the judge of who is a master
rigger. I agree with Alhaji Shagari that the Nigerian people would very soon
“see their hypocrisy”. This was very evident since General Buhari and
Ojukwu gave that highly seditious press conference at Abuja and Enugu
respectively. The Nigerian people saw them for what they are.
They must have been
shocked with the declaration of Dr. Olapade Agoro, the Chairman of the
Conference of Nigerian Political Parties (CNPP) under whose auspices Buhari was
reputed to have issued a threat to the democratic order in the past. Dr. Agoro
literally told Buhari and Ojukwu to shut up their mouth and stop shouting “rig”,
“rig”, as if that was the crime only of the ruling party, for after all, “all
political parties rigged”. Dr. Agoro who is also the Chairman of the National
Action Committee of the CNPP made it abundantly clear that:
No action in Nigeria can invalidate the election of President Obasanjo on account of rigging, because “we all rigged”.
He was very categorical when he said that:
See This Day April
What Dr. Agoro was saying is elementary. A better organized party like the PDP would be in a better position to take advantage of the get out the votes (GOTV), a standard practice in all democracies than a poorly organized party like the ANPP or APGA. The PDP could boast of more dedicated and loyal members than the ANPP or the APGA. Consequently, the PDP was in a better position than any of the political parties and could take advantage of any loophole in the system. This was obvious that in many areas in the south-south and even in the southeast, voters during the election saw the PDP as the only credible political party. Where the other parties are non-existent at the polling stations, voters would easily yield to the suggestion from agents of the party that shows interest in helping the voters.
“RIGGING CENTERS” AND
“MASTER RIGGERS” ABOUND IN NIGERIA
politicians know or ought to know that there are “rigging centers” in Nigeria.
These are areas what ever one does; stuffing of ballot boxes is the way of life.
The Nigerian politicians know or ought to know that there are “rigging professionals” in Nigeria. These are persons no matter one tries to plug all the loopholes, they would still want to stuff ballot boxes and engage in other malpractices.
If politicians do not know these elementary facts of Nigerian politics, then they should get out of the arena. I know the rigging states in Nigeria. I can tell you how the managers of these centers function.
If politicians know these, one would have expected that certain actions would have been taken in the days preceding the election.
The political class should have demanded for the creation of two bodies:
one for the conduct of the election that we call the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) and the other for the monitoring of election process
and all actors involved in that process that one could call the National
Election Monitoring Organization (NEMO).
(b) NEMO would have been well funded to undertake a system of well trained and financed domestic monitors to man known rigging centers from the history of elections in Nigeria.
(c) NEMO should have been provided adequate training programs for managers of the election on rigging methods.
NEMO should have provided adequate training programs for the domestic
NEMO should have provided sensitivity program for the international
The purpose of the foregoing actions is to make actors in the election process to be aware of the critical areas that politicians, managers of the election and credibility organs could only ignore to their peril. This is the only way candidates and others could detect fraud and frustrate fraudulent practice.
How could Nigerians expect to have a credible election without these things? INEC should not be expected to monitor its activities. In normal walks of life, we need external auditor. Why should this not be desired in election matters? Today we are blaming INEC for what INEC is not expected to do.
ALLEGED INFRACTION OF
APRIL 19 “GRASSROOTS RIGGING”
The kind of rigging that Nigerian rigging professionals engage in is what we call the “grassroots rigging”. It is the rigging that takes place at the polling center. This is not a Nigerian practice; we saw how the US used the system in Florida in the 2000 election.
Even from my location in the US, I can tap my knowledge of Nigerian politics supplemented by my experience in partisan politics in the past and my experience in the management of the founding elections of 1993. I can spot the likely problem areas where rigging would be the ORDER OF THE DAY in any election.
politicians know that there are Nigerians versed in the art or science of
rigging elections. They usually make a budget for this in their campaign
expenditure. What they do not know is that there are methods that could be
used to frustrate the perpetrators. INDEPENDENT MONITORS SHOULD BE CREATED IN
The reports of fraud associated with certain areas did not surprise me. They could have been avoided if the National Assembly had created an independent body called the National Election Monitoring Organization (NEMO). This should have been the only to incorporate the practice of domestic monitors into the election process.
This credibility institution would by statute be independent of the INEC and serve as the watch dog over it and other participating organs. Only well trained domestic monitors could have frustrated the frauds at the polling stations.
It is unfair to put the problem on the President who is just one of the political class with scanty or no knowledge of the “rigging centers of Nigeria”. The President was being managed; he could not guarantee the action of his overzealous handlers who operate in one party location in different parts of the country.
In Nigeria, I recall
how the CDS in its training program, labeled the frauds that happened at the
polling booths, which are varied, the “grassroots rigging”. They are so called
for the following factors:
The frauds are usually committed at the base, polling stations and not at
the collation centers.
(b) The environment usually cooperates with the art of rigging at the polling station.
It is usually in a one-party area. This is what President Obasanjo said
when he told the BBC interviewer that there were no opposition candidates in
those areas complained about. The PDP operatives could take advantage of the
absence of other parties and their agents.
It is usually in an area where the parties that have money do well and
parties that have no money do badly.
COURT CANNOT OVERTURN
The way General Buhari talks of the alleged irregularities, it would appear he does not understand he cannot prove these irregularities on oath. The court usually assumes that the winner is the winner. The onus is usually on the petitioner to prove that the winner is not the winner. Mere shouting “rigging” “rigging” does not mean that a crime has been committed.
Buhari’s argument that he would not go to the tribunal unless it could be demonstrated that election actually took place is ludicrous. His demand that there should be a repeat of the election in most states in the country outside the “Sharia-Belt” where he rigged created a dilemma for Arewa Consultative Forum at its recent meeting.
If the Arewa
leaders do not know what Buhari is calling for, if they do not know is by
implication is called ANNULMENT, simplicita! I hope Buhari knows that. One
hopes the Nigerian lovers of democracy would appreciate the implication of
Buhari’s demand that if election does not go the way of the north, annulment is
I agree with Rev. Joseph Hayab of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) "If you repeat the election 20 times, the result will still be the same and the winners will still be the same."
Rev. Hayab told the Nigerian people that the Arewa Christians wholeheartedly endorsed the results from the April elections and the election of President and other elected officials. He also told the Nigerian people that the Arewa Christians were opposed to the position taken by the Muslim Arewa Consultative Forum that had earlier joined Buhari to reject the election. Rev. Hayab was very categorical that in another election, "Buhari is likely to suffer even worse humiliation."
Who is to blame for Buhari’s failure, Buhari or his handlers, Rev. Hayab had this to say: "Buhari’s supporters failed him and they have no other way than to encourage him to protest the results."
On the principle
that those who work hard are usually rewarded in the election, Rev. Hayab had
this to say: " Many of them did not go out to seek for votes;
they thought they would get votes through
ethnic and religious sentiments." (oblique reference to Buhari
See This Day on
line, April 29, 2003.
STUDY PAST CASES
May I advise General Buhari, Ojukwu and others who are planning to go to the tribunal that they should study all previous cases.
From the past records of challenges to the outcome of the perceived rigged election by losers, the Courts had not been known to invalidate the results of such elections with grass roots rigging. Would this one be different as many of the candidates in all the political parties were involved? The reason is simple. The Courts always had difficulties in invalidating “grassroots rigging” because it was hard to prove or disprove, especially where all the officials at the polling booths including the agents of rival parties and candidates, surprisingly were in collusion to rig for a particular party or candidate.
This is one lesson
General Buhari ought to have appreciated that he did not have loyal supporters
in many southern states that actually believed that he would not win the
election. He did not have agents in the south-south that would take risks in
defense of his ambition in the race. He did not have the finance to have
agents in most of the polling stations in the southern states.
One could recall that Chief Jim Nwobodo lost the case of the rigging he alleged was committed in some parts of Anambra in 1983 because he could not prove two of the three cases that he took the tribunal. One would still recall how the late Chief Bola Ige lost his case in the Oyo State to Dr. Omololu Olunloyo because the alleged rigging took place at the base, the grassroots. But in Ondo State, the rigging took place at the collation centers and the since raw figures from the grassroots were still available, the election of Chief Akin Omoboriowo was overturned and that of Chief Ajasin upheld.
Those who are pointing accusing fingers at the PDP and the President should conduct some exercises among their agents. I can recall the characteristics of the agents amenable to rigging. Those Nigerians who call themselves politicians or even presidential candidates do not know what is involved in elections.
These areas ought to have been taught to the candidates. The techniques for discovering and frustrating them should have been well known well ahead of the election by the international observers and the domestic monitors, if the proper information through sensitivity training were conducted. One still recalls the BBC reporter’s chance encounter in the Rivers State in 1999 when she discovered that voting was concluded in many polling booths in the Rivers State before the voters even came to the scene.
The question that
should be asked is where were the agents of the different political parties and
candidates contesting elections? INEC encourages all political parties and
candidates to have agents at the polling and collation centers. Not all
political parties and candidates can meet this, partly because of the cost
involved and partly because they do not have loyal supporters to perform the
assignment creditably. Should we blame INEC for this lapse on the part of the
It was obvious that agents for the ANPP and other parties were usually non-existent. Even when they were present, they were open to the manipulation of the strong party who had money to induce them to cooperate. Would INEC as the election manager be held responsible for the shortfall in the organization of the political parties or in the campaign organization of some candidates?
Would the PDP as a party or the President as a candidate be blamed for the lack of loyal supporters for the opposition party candidates? Would the President as a candidate be in a position to know that this was going on?
Would Buhari have his people to come forward to testify that he saw Ballot boxes being stuffed? One would wait for that day. Buhari should be careful in shouting the refrain of the international observers, who were repeating what they were told by some people. This is not the type of evidence that the tribunal would demand of him, if he took the case to the tribunal. Maybe this why he laying down many impossible conditions if he were to go to the tribunal.
President Obasanjo’s response to the question of the BBC reporter, Julian Marshall on the alleged ballot stuffing is intriguing. He told the reporter,
What President Obasanjo was saying and I agree with him is that the “stuffing of ballot” is an act that people talk about but which none will be prepared to come forward to testify to in a court of law. Buhari’s insistence on what he read from international observers is ludicrous. Would he be surprised that in the end he would find that no international observer would come forward with the “fables”? No court would entertain “fables”.
If this could happen around Port Harcourt in 1999, it was not a surprise that the riverine areas of the Bayelsa State were left to record over 120% of the registered voters. I just recall these cases in 1999 to demonstrate how massive “grassroots rigging” could occur. Daura, the home town of Buhari is another rigging center of Nigeria, if he wants to know. That is where “cattle” did vote in the past. Because of the porous boundary between Nigeria and Niger, there voters in the neighboring villages who votes in both countries.
From my notes, just as the “fishes” could vote in the various Islands in the Rivers and Bayelsa States, so too could “cattle” vote in various locations in the far north especially in the northwest. What Chief MKO Abiola did to cut his losses in these two locations in June 1993 would remain a secret and may be reserved for my memoir. MKO Abiola did not leave the matter to NEC; he didn’t intend to blame the candidate of the other party if he should fail to cut his losses in he far north and in the riverine areas.
From experience, “grassroots rigging” of this nature could only have been avoided and prevented, if the manning of the polling booths was financed by the government as was done in June 1993. This was one of the “mistakes” of the military government of General Babangida for allowing me as the Director-General of CDS to act independently of the military junta through the National Election Monitoring Group (NEMG). This is part of Nigerian history. The CDS was an immediate casualty of General Abacha in 1996 when he was planning to embark on his self-succession.
On the idea of NEMG, it would appear that politicians do not want that system in place to be allowed to make that “IBB’s mistake” of financing autonomous organ, (the Domestic Monitors) to accord internal credibility to the process. May I strongly urge the political that we need the system called the National Election Monitoring Organization (NEMO) for 2007?
I was surprised that no politicians ever made a case for internal mechanism for credibility before they went blindly to the series of elections. This was where the opponents to President Obasanjo failed. As challengers they ought to have been pressing for mechanism to be in place that would make them compete on a level playing field.
NIGERIANS CAN DEFEND
Nigerians know when
they have been cheated. Knowing Nigerians as I do, no one would tell them that
they should defend their political rights. If the various violations or
irregularities cited in the various reports are true why is it that the citizens
of these areas are not protesting? They have right to protest any denial of
their democratic rights under the Nigerian Constitution. I am sure that these
Nigerians in the south-south and southeast do not share the language of Ohaneze
that talks of “widespread complaints of electoral malpractices that trailed the
elections”. This is an exaggeration. There was no report from the
international observers that used that language.
What ought to have been obvious to the Buhari camp is that the results of the elections from these areas broadly approximate the wishes of the people in these areas. Maybe one should revisit the profound declaration of Rev. Hayab that if the election were repeated in these areas 20 times, the winner would still be the winner and the loser the loser and that Buhari would be further humiliated.
INCITING LANGUAGE NOT
The voters and people of the south-south and of the southeast do not need Buhari to address the World Press on their behalf. He should know that they are opposed to the language of inciting them to adopt mass action against a democratic order.
They do not need Ojukwu to boast of what he planned to do, if he did not win the election. How these two people would want to reap where they did not sow is like a kid who expects to pass an examination when he does not work hard.
Nigerians would recall the comparison between the Civil War of the 1960s and what Ojukwu said would befall the Nigeria people in 2003, if he did not win the election. How could a democrat be planning to inflict untold harm on the citizenry because he did not win an election? This is what Buhari and Dim Ojukwu are calling for. The language of Dim Ojukwu should have been reprimanded by peace loving Nigerians. But Ohaneze letter to the president seemed to condone this as part of the protected right to participation.
According to Dim Ojukwu, the masses of angry Nigerians would rise against Obasanjo government if he lost the election of April 19, 2003. Why he should compare what the masses would do in 2003 with what he did to the Nigerian people in the war of 1967-70 was disgusting. That is the way he sees democratic politics; if he does not get what he wants in a democratic election, he would “declare war” on Nigeria. He warned the President and sent a warning to the Nigerian people at large
Guardian and This
Day of April 18, 2003.
Dim Ojukwu should have been the first to be picked up by the masses should there be a break down of law and order. From Nigerian history of urban riots, he should know those who usually suffer. They are the stranger elements in the area. Who are these stranger elements? I will leave this to him to ponder over.
One would have
expected the leadership of Ohaneze to call him to order that he crossed the
line. Instead in the statement credited to the Chairman and Secretary of
Ohaneze, Justice Eze Ozobu and Professor Ben Nwabueze respectively, they called
that language of incitement one of the protected rights under the Nigerian
Constitution. It is not. The Constitution and the Electoral Act make
provision for the redress of grievances by parties in the election. No where
is the right of incitement against the democratic order one of them. For the
Ohaneze’s letter to the President, see the Vanguard , May 1, 2003.
ONLY POLITICAL PARTIES
HAVE CANDIDATES IN THE ELECTION
The Constitution and the Electoral Act only make provision for political parties as the only body that could sponsor candidates in the election. That means only political parties can talk about the outcome of the elections. One should refer to the Constitution section 221 that says
The Electoral Act Section 100(2) says that "a candidate must be a member of a political party and sponsored by that party."
Who would call to order that the meddlesomeness of Arewa Consultative Forum and the Ohaneze in the aftermath of the April elections? Who would tell them that their activities are in conflict with the Constitution and the Electoral Act? None of them sponsored candidates during the series of elections because they are not supposed to do so. How come they arrogate to themselves the power of pronouncing on the outcome of the elections as they pertain to the fortunes of various candidates? I hope the President in future would take into account my suggestions in my congratulatory letter that there should be a strict enforcement of the law that forbids these various ethnic associations from making pronouncements on elections.
What is further disturbing is that the ACF is clearly doing the bidding of the ANPP. It is in fact doubling as the ANPP/Buhari Campaign Organization. Would the Chairman of the ANPP Board of Trustee (Admiral Augustus Aikhomu) and the National Chairman of the party (Chief Don Etiebet) speak out? They should tell the Arewa Consultative Forum that it should not take the place of the party and that it should not make pronouncement on the activities of the party. General Buhari should be told to make a choice between the ANPP and the ACF.
One would recall that the first meeting of the ACF was like the meeting of the ANPP Northern branch as the attendees were names one would regularly find in the National Executive Committee of the ANPP. The ACF’s communiqué rejecting the Presidential/Gubernatorial election was like the press conference that Buhari and Ojukwu issued on April 23, 2003 at Abuja and Enugu respectively.
One would recall that the same members of the ACF were the same people who did not want the election when it became obvious that the ANPP was in difficulty campaigning. This same persons wanted series of amendments to the Electoral Act, a week before the election or in the alternative they proposed an interim government.
I SAW THIS BEFORE; THIS
IS ANNULMENT SCENARIO ALL OVER AGAIN
When I go over my diary, I am struck with the identical tactics of the current Arewa of Muslim variety in May 1993 few weeks to the election in June 1993 with the leaders of Arewa in March 2003. I saw this before; I am disturbed that Nigerians who love democracy are not speaking out. They should tell these anti-democratic elements in the country that they should give the democratically elected person the opportunity to rule Nigeria in accordance with the Constitution.
One would recall
that when it became obvious in May 1993 that the northern candidate was not a
match to the southern candidate in the person of Bashiru Tofa and MKO Abiola
respectively, all sorts of scenarios were put in place. The one I remember
vividly was during my visit to Sokoto in mid May 1993. I recall how the Sultan
was blunt that the election scheduled for June 12 should be suspended or
cancelled. It was obvious then that MKO Abiola of the SDP was going to win the
election scheduled for June 12, 1993. Just as the leaders of the Arewa
Consultative Forum are feeling today after the April 2003 election was the way
the Caliphate felt in May 1993. I still recall how the Caliphate then wanted
the military President in May 1993 to suspend which in effect meant cancel the
June 12 election. This was not all.
I still recall how a half-baked and ill-digested document prepared by a Kwara Alhaji whose name I would withhold for now was then peddled among northern leaders. The import of the plan was that the military should stop the transition program including the election scheduled for June 12 and in its place set up an interim government of eminent persons. I still have this document that the former Sultan gave me. What is disgusting is that the position of the ACF is virtually endorsed by the Ohaneze Ndigbo. Again I am not surprised as the fear over a President that they cannot control is an issue.
CANNOT EAT YOUR CAKE AND HAVE IT
The letter from Ohaneze Ndigbo to President Obasanjo is disturbing that it was authored by a retired Justice and eminent Professor of Law. They ought to have seen in the content of the letter that they were discourteous to the office of the President and contemptuous of the democratic process to which the series of elections was an integral part. They did not have the courtesy to congratulate the winner of the Presidential election, even if you did not approve of the man running in the first place and even if you did not vote for the man. He is the winner of that election. You cannot be oblivious of the relevant sections of Part VII of the Electoral Act that provide opportunity for aggrieved persons to go before the relevant tribunals that had been constituted and sworn in by the Chief Justice of the Federation.
congratulating the President and the winner of that election Ohaneze proceeded
to congratulate the voters during the election. Listen to what the Ohaneze had
Are these eminent persons saying that the act of voting did not produce winners? I am worried that Professor Ben Nwabueze is at it again; I still recall the anti-June 12 decrees, the anti-Abiola decrees and the anti-Yoruba decrees that he crafted. God save Nigeria from the hands of the anti-democratic elements.
The proposal of the Ohaneze for a Government of National Unity should also be read along with the plan of the Arewa. How could the Ohaneze see the GNU as a solution to a problem concocted by Buhari and Ojukwu today. One would recall that the same problem was concocted by the Arewa and the Ohaneze from beginning.
From beginning one
would recall that the Ohaneze was opposed to the person and the tribe of the PDP
candidate, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo because he was deemed an enemy of the Igbo in
many statements. The Ohaneze then made a case for an Igbo Presidency Project (IPP)
on the anti-Yoruba platform. The Ohaneze later told the Igbo to wait for the
Igbo candidate that the Ohaneze would be putting forward. That never
materialized due to no fault of Obasanjo.
One would also
recall that the Ohaneze called on the Ndigbo in the five states to reject the
Igbo PDP Governors partly because they rejected the Ohaneze’s caricature of
Obasanjo as the “enemy of the Igbo”, partly because they jointly sponsored
Obasanjo in preference to Dr. Alex Ekwueme at the PDP Convention partly because
they would be on the same ticket with Obasanjo on April 19 election and partly
because they campaigned that Obasanjo would accommodate the Igbo the Igbo agenda
in the new National Political Mainstream that would include the southwest.
One would also recall
that the Ohaneze failed to come up with a consensus Igbo presidential
candidate. Without any fanfare the Ohaneze finally called on the Igbo voters
to vote en masse for the candidates of APGA that included Dim Ojukwu in
the election without specifically mentioning him by name.
OHANEZE’S PLAN AMOUNTS
Having failed in all
these efforts and having seen Obasanjo and PDP Governors emerged as the winners
of the April elections, Ohaneze should have had the courtesy and the decency to
congratulate Chief Obasanjo and the PDP Governors in the five Igbo States as the
winners of the elections at the State and Federal levels. Instead, the Ohaneze
leaders are calling on the President to set aside the voters verdict as the
“will of the Nigerian people”. The Ohaneze leaders want President Obasanjo to
substitute the will of the people with their wish and form a Government of
National Unity (GNU) and convene a National Conference as a matter of great
urgency. One could ask some pertinent questions:
(a) Is Ohaneze plan not as a result of an annulment of the election? They want an all-party government partly because they could not produce an Igbo President and partly because they do not like the person and tribe of the winner of the April Presidential election.
(b) Is Ohaneze plan not the same thing that the Arewa and Buhari want? They too want the cancellation of most of the elections in the country, partly because they are unable to produce one of their own as the president, partly they are unable to produce someone from the south they could manipulate as the president and party because they do not trust the person elected in April 2003 from he treated them between 199 and 2003.
Nigerians should note that those who were rejected through the polls would find themselves in the Cabinet of Obasanjo. This would be through the association not known to the Constitution called the Arewa Consultative Forum and the Ohaneze N’Igbo! Is that what we want after the election?
THE CLAIM BY
BUHARI AND OJUKWU IS BASELESS
They should not have been saying that they won the election as they tried to tell the world in their highly publicized press conferences. How could Buhari claim to have won when he did not campaign outside the far north where the ANPP won over 90% of the votes? Even if he was the only candidate and amenable to the rule governing election with one candidate, does Gen. Buhari think that he would secure 25% of the votes in 2/3 of the states? He would not because his negatives were more that his positives in most of the southern states.
How could Ojukwu claim to have won? Won what? What was his concept of winning? Since he was working for Buhari, he lost or he did not win to the extent that he could not carry the Ndigbo votes to him. This was his objective in jumping into the race unprepared and with no organization even in Anambra. He just wanted to take the Ndigbo votes to Buhari during the second ballot, since Buhari could not get the Ndigbo votes on his own.
Ojukwu was only a factor in the election to the extent that he could promote the stalemate. That was the basis of the pact between him and Buhari. The Ndigbo voters knew better that never again would anybody lead them to commit collective ethnic suicide.
His mischaracterization of what Chief MKO Abiola did was in bad taste and highly offensive to the memory of that great Nigerian. Does Ojukwu believe that Nigerians forgot his role in the e anti-Yoruba campaign that he extended to the anti-Abiola campaign even during the National Convention of the SDP in Jos? Maybe he did not know that I was in a position to know all that he and Nzeribe were planning to do with the Ndigbo delegates to the SDP Convention. Chief Raph Obioha and Dr. Emeka Ezeife are still alive. But for them, the duo of Ojukwu and Nzeribe acting from Jos and Bauchi respective would have succeeded with taking the Igbo delegates from Abiola because he was a Yoruba. Of course they still succeed later in the annulment saga. That the Igbo delegates at the Jos convention of the SDP refused to follow them was a testimony to what the Ndigbo delegates thought of them.
Maybe Dim Ojukwu forgot his anti-democratic activities and the role he played in the sustenance of the annulment under General Abacha as his envoy to the US.
Does Ojukwu appreciate that he was not visible in areas outside the Ndigbo enclave in the country? His appeal to the Ndigbo to come home under APGA was a cheap campaign at a time when the value of ethnic organization was losing its salience in Nigerian politics.
In the end the entry of Buhari into presidential election for the first time introduced religion into the presidential election since 1979. Buhari saw Nigeria in two dimensional terms, Muslim and Christian and North and South. Nigeria is more than that. This is where Obasanjo is superior to the other candidates, especially Buhari and Ojukwu with respect to their contrasting vision for Nigeria.
The entry of Dim Ojukwu introduced the basest attribute of ethnicity in Nigerian politics called, the tripod into the Nigerian politics. He saw his mission in the presidential race as only to make the Ndigbo take its rightful place in the community of three ethnic nationalities, Hausa, Yoruba and Ndigbo. This is something that some of us destroyed in 1977 in the Constituent Assembly. Any attempt to revive it would be strongly resisted by the minorities in the north and south of Nigeria.
BUHARI AND OJUKWU
DESTROYED THEIR PARTIES
political parties that gave them platform suffered in the process and would
continue to suffer in the future. Those who have been following the fall out
of the press conferences of Buhari and Ojukwu would testify as to how they
created a dilemma for the future of the ANPP and APGA. Unless Buhari is
expelled from ANPP that party is doomed. APGA as the Ndigbo party should learn
from what happened to the Alliance for Democracy (AD).
This essay is to
call the attention of the political class especially Buhari and Ojukwu that
there is the pathology of election rigging in Nigeria that requires the
attention of the political class. The concept o “we all are riggers” is not
the answer. The answer is what we all would want to do about the pathology of
rigging in Nigerian politics.
Election rigging would continue in Nigeria as long as politicians remain fixed in their expectation from election. As long as they believe that they are contesting the last election and as long as they mortgage their everything in the election including their houses, winning would remain the only option. The feeling that winning is the only option in an election is related to the mounting electoral malpractice. The feeling that there would be no other election pervades the feeling of politicians and the propensity to cheat.
One is encouraged with the attitude of the politicians in the southwest to the electoral defeat in the hand of the PDP. Some politicians are beginning to see politics and election as beyond one election. One hopes that those who were defeated in the last election would not abandon politics. One hopes that some of them would relate their defeat to what they did not do well rather than pointing accusing fingers at the other party and the managers of the election (INEC).
One hopes that many
of them would take to party work and reorganize their parties and prepare for
another election. Unfortunately Buhari and Ojukwu are one-time and one-issue
politicians who would wither away in few months time. They are no party
It would take a lot of
work for the leadership of ANPP in the south-south to convince the people of the
area that Buhari does not mean extremism in Nigerian politics. Since APGA was
not a factor in the south-south and since its standard bearer in 2003 also
represents another form of extremism in Nigerian politics the people of the
south-south would have nothing to worry about APGA and Ojukwu.
Maybe Nigerians should take to the Almighty as the solution to the current political setback. I like the spirit of the Governors of the southwest and the leadership of the AD/Afenifere and the defeated ANPP Gubernatorial candidate in Edo State Senator RS Owie who left their defeat to God. Buhari, a good Muslim should have left his failure to Allah! In this context, I shall comment briefly on the futility in their plan to take their case to the international community.
The plan to internationalize the current misunderstanding within the political class further demonstrates that General Buhari does not still get it. Buhari should know that the world leaders are sending the winner messages of congratulations. Are these the same leaders he still want to influence against Chief Obasanjo? They know Gen. Buhari as what? Maybe he does not know his image abroad. He should do a content analysis of the report on him and that on Chief Obasanjo. The Okadigbo Committee on international campaign against Obasanjo is an exercise in futility. What the US and UK are asking Obasanjo to do is make sure that avenue are open for those aggrieved to find justice. Unfortunately General Buhari is running away from the remedies in Part VII in the Electoral Act.
May I end this essay by reacting to the call on the President byAlhaji Umaru Shinkafi of the Buhari Campaign Organization that President Obasanjo should not rush to setting up his administration for the second term. Alhaji Umaru, you are unfair in the language you used to mischaracterize what is going on within the Obasanjo Presidency. Should the person who won an election not say Thanks to God and to those who helped him?
Alhaji Umaru wants the President to avail himself of the good offices of so called eminent persons in Nigeria to find solution to the political impasse involving him and General Buhari. You raised the harassment of the President that in retrospect had the same root in the plan of those who are working for Buhari today. Of course it was led by the outgoing Speaker of the House of Representatives who in spite of his formal membership of the PDP was actually a Buhari worker in Kano. What the Buhari operatives led by the outgoing Speaker were faced with in the election was what they wanted to achieve through what they called impeachment that had no basis in the Constitution. It was simply, the harassment of the President because of the second term.
Alhaji Umaru is prescribing what he did not preach in 1999 when he and Chief Olu Falae raised identical complaints about rigging of the election. Where did they eventually end? The tribunal! Once the tribunal concluded its work everything ended. What is happening today?
Alhaji Umaru, today
you and many in the north are preaching different solution outside the Electoral
Act and the Constitution partly because the matter involves today a former
dictator from Katsina, called Head of State that no Nigerian ever chose and
partly because the person is a Fulani. Yesterday the person involved was from
Ondo and a bloody civilian. Alhaji, as a lawyer, tell General Buhari that the
law is no respecter of men and that nobody is above the Constitution. Plead
with him to go to the tribunal and stop looking for a way out of the dilemma he
created for himself through intemperate language.
My plea with President Obasanjo is how to bring the people of the northwest into the Nigerian Political Mainstream. President Obasanjo is not an extremist. He is known as a “uniter”. With the help of President Shagari he should be able to find good people from Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara who would meet the needs of these States in his government. The Vice President knows the Northeast very well to find good representatives of the northeastern states in his new administration.
Others in the name the Conference of Nigerian Political Parties are opposed to swearing in of the winner of the Presidential election and the Gubernatorial election. On what basis is this group opposing the installation of the President and the Governors on May 29, 2003? They want chaos. In this group is the ANPP.
The ANPP also wants
the National Assembly to pass an urgent amendment to the Electoral Act and use
“Option A4” in future elections. What do these people mean? Dim Ojukwu first
came up with the plan and later Buhari said the same thing. I tried to correct
the two distinguished Nigerians that they were mischaracterizing the process
they were referring to, which was called the Modified Open Ballot System
(MOBS). This error is still repeated in various documents of ANPP. The latest
is the plan of the Okadigbo Committee and in the Report issued by Sule Y. Mamma
the Director General, ANPP Presidential Campaign Organization. In the latter
it was stated:
The report went on "The method was used in the June 12, 1993 Elections, which Chief MKO Abiola emerged as winner of the Presidential election. "
The report concluded: " That election was widely acclaimed to be the most transparent, free and fair election ever held in Nigeria."
For the sake of
these Nigerians who found that system worthy of emulation and for the first time
recalled what my colleagues and I did without mentioning our names, may I refer
them to the appropriate source? Go to Decree 13 Presidential Election
(Basic Constitutional and Transitional Provisions) Decree
1993. For the system of voting may I refer to Schedule 3 Section 13-15 under
the heading “Procedure of Election”
Option A4 was a
nomination system that took care of the politics of zoning and allowed all
Nigerians the opportunity to seek the highest office in the land. It is well
discussed in Chapter 3 of my book, The Tale of June 12, “Presidential
Nomination Crisis: The Emergence of Chief MKO Abiola and Alhaji Bashir Tofa”,
especially pages 69-70.
President Obasanjo does not need General Buhari to name Ministers as some are suggesting. Certainly President Obasanjo does not need Dim Ojukwu to name Ndigbo for him. The core of Ndigbo Governors and political appointees that stuck it out with him despite the curse of Ohaneze should not be abandoned in favor of self-promoted Ndigbo leaders. Mr. President, the new Ndigbo leaders that you are cultivating should be able to prove the Ohaneze wrong that you, a Yoruba cannot be trusted. Your objective is to demonstrate that the Ndigbo and the Yoruba and others can work together within the new Nigerian Political Mainstream.
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